By Anesta Henry
Students of the Frederick Smith Secondary School have been cautioned that bullying is a learned, aggressive behaviour that can have devastating consequences.
The message from Chief Education Officer Ramona Archer-Bradshaw was delivered to the students in person on Friday as she addressed the relaunch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme at the Trents, St James institution.
Dr Archer-Bradshaw, applauded the programme designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer. She told students that bullying is a matter of grave concern which is intentionally repeated, causing another child to feel hurt physically or emotionally.
“It goes beyond taking away money, it goes beyond hitting someone. It can include spreading rumours, verbal assault, engaging in practices such as excluding a child from a group to hurt him or her or any other gestures or actions that occur in a less visible manner. One may say that such behaviour was prevalent years ago, and while this is true, access to cyberspace today has granted us real-time viewing of bullying and other negative behaviours with sometimes devastating consequences,” Dr Archer-Bradshaw said.
“As such, bullying can be viewed as a gateway behaviour which if not addressed in its early stages will result in students encountering the justice system at an early age. Such behaviours negatively impact the victim, who often experiences feelings of depression. The perpetrator has a misguided sense of power and the bystanders are affected,” she noted.
The Chief Education Officer said she was concerned about the level of intolerance and the lack of conflict resolution skills demonstrated by school children, noting that Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had expressed similar concerns.
In this regard, Archer-Bradshaw told the students that they are paving the way for generations to come and must be able to find their way without having a bullying mentality.
“Students, we hear your refrain that snitches get stitches and your argument that we are not out there with you when you leave the school. There is also a saying that silence is golden, but in this instance it is not applicable. Bullying is a learned behaviour, learned behaviours become a part of who you are,” she warned.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, Shawn Clarke, called on students to love and be proud of their school.
Acknowledging that the school has been highlighted for negative and positive reasons in recent times, Clarke, speaking during Friday’s ceremony, appealed to students to help change the mindsets of Barbadians by engaging in good behaviour and representing the school well.
Clarke, a former student of the then St James Secondary School, told the students to “block the noise out” and concentrate on what has to be done to turn Frederick Smith Secondary School around.
“I remember the glory days when St James Secondary School was almost the Springer of boys. Three, four years consecutively we won inter school sports. Year after year, we won inter school sports. “There was pride in school and maintaining that number one position was what we were all about. I want you to develop that same pride of
“I want you to develop that same love in your heart about your school. And when anyone asks you where do you go to school, say proudly “I am a student of the Frederick Smith Secondary School. Don’t be ashamed to do it,” said Clarke, whose company delivers the bullying prevention programme.
Meanwhile, Principal Stephen Jackman, appealed to students to speak out when they see their peers being bullied.
He said the most powerful tool to stop bullying is if the school population stands up and says ‘no this cannot happen here’ and if everybody, when they see something happening, finds an authority figure and reports it so there can be an intervention.
“As we leave here this morning, we will be taking that terrorism slogan, we will see something and we will say something,” Jackman said.
The programme was first launched at Frederick Smith in 2014. During Friday’s relaunch, the students and teachers were dressed in special t-shirts and were treated to musical selections by students and by former student Jane Small and singer Keann Walters.